A girl from Kalawa AP, Kenya, praying
Minute Read

What does being a Christian organisation mean?

4 things you should know

At World Vision, our Christian faith is central to who we are. It defines who we are as an organisation by being an active, visible, tangible expression of God’s love to the poor and oppressed, regardless of their religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

But what does that really mean day-to-day for how World Vision works? If faith is our motivation to serve the poor, how does it impact where we work and the way we empower children and communities?

If you’ve asked these questions before or even had them asked of you, here are four important things you should know.

1. Our faith defines our organisation, and so does respect for the different beliefs of the communities we work with

Loshru (12) with her sisters Dorcas (9) and Ajuma (11) (left to right) at their home in Turkana County, Kenya.

Our faith in Jesus is central to who we are, and we follow His example in showing God’s unconditional love and care in the world. Wherever we work – in a wide range of contexts, from places where Christians are free to express their faith, to places where they may face imprisonment for sharing their beliefs – we identify ourselves as a Christian organisation. We practice and demonstrate our faith in various ways – by who we are and how we live, what we do, and the words we use to communicate – while always respecting and being sensitive to the beliefs of the people of the children and communities we work with.

Every day, we hope children and families see God’s love through the care provided by staff and volunteers from our field offices, 99% of whom are nationals of the country they are working in. We look to support those who need it most, and to empower them to transform their lives. By working together with people of all cultures, faiths and genders to challenge injustice in all its forms, we help communities become places where children can thrive, and girls and boys, men and women can live with dignity and respect.

2. We work with children and communities based on their need, not their faith

World Vision staff member Florence Mulenga jumps with children in Zambia

The primary focus of our work is addressing the immediate and long-term development needs of children and their communities, particularly the most vulnerable. We respond to these needs, no matter what the beliefs of a community or of individual community members, and we’re committed to working with all different people to achieve transformation. We believe we would not be honouring Jesus if we didn't help all people, regardless of their religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

While some child sponsorship agencies work only in nations with Christian majorities, World Vision serves the poor in communities of all faiths. We are a signatory to a number of international agreements that forbid us from excluding anyone from receiving humanitarian aid, regardless of their race, creed or nationality and without adverse distinction of any kind. Aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone. So while our faith motivates us, our actions are for all – not just other Christians.

3. Our work is about empowering children and communities to end poverty, not converting them to Christianity

Evangelical Friends Church in  Kampong Chhnang province, Cambodia. This church partners with World Vision for the Celebrating Families project.

Regardless of faith, we believe all people should be free to live their lives without poverty. While we’re motivated by our Christian values and faith, and are open about our Christian identity, we recognise that many people in the world do not share our faith. We respect the beliefs of the individuals and communities we work with and are sensitive to each context. It’s not our goal to convert anyone to Christianity through our work, and we never seek to do so – we simply aim to care for people the way Jesus did.

We do not proselytise, which is the practise of using aid to induce a person to change their religious beliefs. There is no expectation that any child must attend religious events or receive religious instruction to receive aid. Instead, we serve alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of God’s unconditional love for all people.

4. We partner with other faith-based organisations to boost our impact

Faith Leaders boost World Vision's COVID-19 prevention efforts in Sudan

Faith plays a vital role in our world. More than 85 per cent of the world's religious and faith leaders have a position of trust and influence in many places. That’s why faith-based organisations are important partners in our work. Our goal is to empower children and communities to break free from poverty for good, and we know we cannot achieve our mission on our own. So we collaborate with a wide range of partners, supporters and others – including people of all faiths and people without any faith – to transform the lives of children, families and communities.

We partner with local churches in appropriate contexts, who help World Vision staff to understand the community and its needs and provide staff and volunteers. We help local churches to strengthen local leadership and equip them with resources and training to carry out our shared mission among the poor and oppressed so that when we leave the community, they are able to continue supporting the community’s transformation for generations to come.

We also work with leaders of other faiths in the communities where we work. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have partnered with Muslim leaders to share important preventative messages in their faith communities. We also equip faith leaders to be a voice for children in the communities were we work. Research in Senegal found that 97% of faith leaders we trained said that, in the past year, they’d actively worked on child-protection issues in their communities – preaching or leading discussions on essential issues like child marriage, birth registration, education, and child health and hygiene.

Thanks for partnering with us to empower children and their communities to thrive – together, we are building a better future.

 

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